How to Thicken Pesto Sauce (6 Best Ways Explained!)

If there is one thing that is crucial about pesto sauce, it is its consistency – sure, the most important is whether or not does the pesto taste good, but if you want to call it pesto, it must be very thick as well. So if your pesto has turned out to be too thin, try this little trick to make it thicken again:

How to thicken pesto sauce? One of the most common ways to thicken pesto sauce is to add a little bit of cornstarch. Cornstarch is a well-known thickener, popular mainly due to its fairly neutral taste. When you’re mixing your pesto sauce with cornstarch, though, don’t ever put the cornstarch in right away, but rather mix it with water first. Additionally, you should be slightly heating the pesto while mixing it with the cornstarch.

This answer was just a really quick one, though, and in order to actually understand this topic, we’re going to have to dive into it a bit deeper.

So without any further ado, let’s just get started!

How to Thicken Pesto SaucePin

How to thicken pesto sauce

Making pesto sauce at home might be a little bit challenging, especially if you’re making it for the first time. One of the hardest things to get right is the consistency because it depends on so many factors. But with that in mind, adjusting the consistency actually isn’t that hard even after you’ve actually finished making the pesto. So here come our six tips on how to do so:

Add cornstarch

The arguably most common way for thickening basically anything is mixing it with cornstarch, and this is an option even with pesto sauce. But, as usual, in order to prevent clumping, you should firstly mix the cornstarch with water (vegetable broth can be used instead for better taste).

After that, start heating your pesto sauce and after a while, slowly pour the mixture of water and cornstarch into the pesto and mix it very carefully. Let it gently cook for another while, and voila, you’re done!

Add breadcrumbs

If you’re not a fan of cornstarch, the only other one of traditional thickeners that are suitable to be used with pesto are breadcrumbs. To thicken the pesto with them, you should once again start heating the pesto, but in this case, you won’t have to mix the breadcrumbs with water before putting them into the pesto.

Add cheese

But although both breadcrumbs and cornstarch do excellent work regarding thickening the pesto, they don’t really belong in there and might alter the final taste a bit. Hence, if you’re making some creamy pesto, you might instead think of putting a little bit of cheese in there to thicken your pesto sauce.

Add some pasta water.

Chances are that if you’re making pesto, you’re making some pasta as well – and believe it or not, the pasta water can also be used to thicken pesto sauce. While it’s still boiling, pour just a tiny amount of it at a time into the pesto and carefully mix it. Repeat until the boiling salty water makes your pesto thick!

Add some pine nuts

Did you know that you can thicken your pesto sauce by putting some more pine nuts into it? It may sound simple, but indeed, just put the pesto and the nuts into your food processor and pull it until it’s all well mixed – if you’ve added the right amount of the pine nuts, your pesto should now be pretty thick! 

Add some extra basil.

And the last thing we will recommend you is probably the simplest one – to thicken your pesto sauce, you can also try using some basil leaves instead of pine nuts. To do so, again, just put the pesto and the leaves into a food processor and pulse it until the leaves get nicely mixed in. Then, once again, repeat until you’re satisfied with the final consistency.

Should pesto be thick?

The exact reason depends on what kind of pesto sauce we’re talking about, but generally speaking, yes, pesto should be thick. The main reason for this is that pesto should have a lot of concentrated flavor in it, and in order to maintain that, thick consistency is absolutely crucial.

Frequently asked questions

How to thicken pesto cream sauce?

One of the most sufficient and convenient ways to thicken pesto cream sauce is definitely by putting a little bit of cheese in there – trust us, that won’t only make it thicker but also much more delicious!

How to thicken up pesto sauce?

Believe it or not, simply a little bit extra portion of basil leaves might be enough to thicken up pesto sauce. Just add the leaves into the sauce and pulse it in a food processor until it gets all mixed in. Check the consistency, and if it is still too thin, repeat this until you’re satisfied.

How to thicken creamy pesto sauce?

Did you know that in order to thicken creamy pesto sauce, you literally don’t need anything else besides some cheese? Yes, no matter how simple it may sound, the best way to thicken creamy pesto sauce is just by putting some cheese in it.

How to thicken knorr pesto sauce?

There are many ways to thicken knorr pesto sauce, one of them being using cornstarch. To do so, first, mix the cornstarch with some water, and just then pour this mixture into the sauce. Don’t forget to be heating the pesto while mixing the cornstarch in!


Even though pesto sauce can be thickened by using things like cornstarch or breadcrumbs, we wouldn’t really recommend you to do so since they are many more natural ways you could choose. For instance, putting some extra cheese into the pesto when you’re making a creamy kind of it, or by adding some extra basil leaves for the classic one.



Image credits – Canva

You May Also Like